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And the winner for highest pedestrian danger index goes to... Orlando!
June 1, 2011 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Dangerous by Design: an interactive map of pedestrian fatalities in the United States "From 2000 to 2009, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month." How the U.S. Builds Roads that Kill Pedestrians
posted by desjardins (60 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Noticed that the top 4 most dangerous areas are in Florida.

From the report: The top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking are in Florida, known as a haven for retirees. Is there a connection? An analysis of the pedestrian fatality statistics reveals that Florida’s senior population is not overrepresented compared to the national average: 22 percent of pedestrian deaths in Florida in the years studied were older adults (65 years and older), the same as the national average of 22 percent. More than half of the states had rates higher than Florida’s. In fact, over one-third of all pedestrian deaths in Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York were older adults.
posted by AceRock at 5:13 PM on June 1, 2011


From 2000 to 2009, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month.

While I don't think it's possible for a jet to not crash "roughly", this is why I support more authority for the TSA.
posted by gman at 5:14 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Using the phrase '(doing x) roughly (a timeframe)' it means 'on average', or perhaps even 'about'.

And any added authority for the TSA is about as good an idea as putting spikes on a speculum.

Back to the story: as someone who doesn't drive, I'd like to see more looking at these kinds of things. We just moved to a place where the nearest bus stop into downtown requires crossing a hairpin turn (no, really, it's a 180 degree turn in two-tenths of a mile WHILE going downhill as well), and it's a laugh trying to work out where I can cross. I usually end up going to the next available stop, which has a nice straightaway nearby and I can see both ways and not risk getting yelled at for having my skull embedded in someone's hood because they didn't see me and took me off at the hips.
posted by mephron at 5:24 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: In Portland, Maine, the Amtrak terminal / Concord Trailways station can only be accessed by busy roads with no sidewalk.

In the wintertime, there's high snowbanks and you can only get there on foot (as you presumably would) by walking in the road. Way to support public transport.

I hate this country.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:25 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The problem here is we're assuming that people who can't afford cars, and are apparently not in any real hurry, are somehow important to the economy.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


Instead of these Scare Comparisons, I'd like to see articles list deaths or injuries in comparison to other fatality/injury statistics. The second link provides a table that lists metropolitan areas with the average number of deaths per 100,000. The top in that criteria is Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, at 3.5 per 100,000. But what is that 100,000 a measure of? Street crossings? Other travel statistics are based on miles traveled.

Also in the second link, they're showing an arterial road. I don't know if the terminology and hierarchy is the same in all jurisdictions and discussions of traffic (I'm not a traffic planner, but I am a city-type planner), but arterial roads are the Big Roads, intended to get as many people from A to B as possible, and usually at higher speeds. Housing developments shouldn't be located right along arterial roads, at least without some buffer. Add a bunch of cross-walks, and you've defeated the purpose of the arterial road.

Alternative transportation is getting more attention now, at least in California, where major projects need to address Greenhouse Gasses as part of the project discussion. This typically means looking at travel related with the development. The problem then is that the new project has to fit into the context of existing roadways. Some communities are providing improved bikeways and sidewalks, but sometimes there is limited space to expand or alter roadways and provide alternative transportation paths.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:35 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking are in Florida, known as a haven for retirees. Is there a connection? An analysis of the pedestrian fatality statistics reveals that Florida’s senior population is not overrepresented compared to the national average: 22 percent of pedestrian deaths in Florida in the years studied were older adults (65 years and older), the same as the national average of 22 percent. More than half of the states had rates higher than Florida’s. In fact, over one-third of all pedestrian deaths in Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York were older adults.

Okay, so senior pedestrians aren't overrepresented, but what about senior drivers? (I don't mean to imply that they would be; the above statement just seemed curiously half-assed, is all.)

Still, yes, the main thing is that accessible sidewalks are necessary 24/7/365 and need to be planned, built, and maintained with that in mind.

The problem here is we're assuming that people who can't afford cars, and are apparently not in any real hurry, are somehow important to the economy worthy of life.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:37 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


tumid dahlia: The problem here is we're assuming that people who can't afford cars, and are apparently not in any real hurry, are somehow important to the economy.

If you're relying in your feet and public transportation, you can't be in much of a hurry. You can't time things out like people do with cars, because the bus might come twice an hour if you're lucky, or will pick you up and drop you off 3 or 5 blocks from your points of origin and/or destination. And then the bus will take a weird route to possibly pick up some more people, stopping longer for people with disabilities. A 15 minute car trip is easily 30 minutes by bus, often longer.

But you can sleep the whole way, or listen to music, read a book, or just ignore traffic all-together, which is wonderful. Really, truly, wonderful.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:39 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorta amazed that my city is the forth safest out of the fifty-two in the list. We Pittsburgh pedestrians must just be quick, because it's not like any driver is paying the slightest attention to us. I get in a close call at a crosswalk almost weekly and if the police have ever stopped someone for not yielding to a pedestrian, I've never seen it.

And that's in the city, forget even attempting to walk in any suburb around here, there's no sidewalks and usually not even much of a shoulder and the drivers hate you. I used to live in a very well-off suburban town of 16,000 that didn't have a single foot of sidewalk in the entire municipality. What amused me is that they had crosswalks with walk/don't walk lights at some of the intersections but no way to actually get to those crosswalks without walking in the middle of the road.
posted by octothorpe at 5:41 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


From 2000 to 2009, 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the United States, the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month.

While I don't think it's possible for a jet to not crash "roughly", this is why I support more authority for the TSA.


I don't understand. Because pedestrian fatalities dwarf airplane passenger fatalities, and because is much more risky to cross a road than get on a plane, you support additional powers for the TSA (who, frankly, suck at their useless security theatre job)?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:41 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The second link provides a table that lists metropolitan areas with the average number of deaths per 100,000. The top in that criteria is Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, at 3.5 per 100,000. But what is that 100,000 a measure of? Street crossings? Other travel statistics are based on miles traveled.

I agree that per 100,000 population is a bad metric. The "most dangerous" list has the cities sorted by PDI. From the study (PDF): "The PDI computes the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the amount of walking in that area, correcting for the fact that the cities where more people walk on a daily basis are likely to have a greater number of pedestrian fatalities"
posted by desjardins at 5:46 PM on June 1, 2011


"
Also in the second link, they're showing an arterial road. I don't know if the terminology and hierarchy is the same in all jurisdictions and discussions of traffic (I'm not a traffic planner, but I am a city-type planner), but arterial roads are the Big Roads, intended to get as many people from A to B as possible, and usually at higher speeds. Housing developments shouldn't be located right along arterial roads, at least without some buffer. Add a bunch of cross-walks, and you've defeated the purpose of the arterial road. "

Fun fact: a traffic lane carries the same number of cars per minute, regardless of the prevailing speed. The faster people go, the longer they need for following distances. So basically, arterial roads are simply a big mistake. They simply should not be.
posted by ocschwar at 5:46 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


"His thoughts were red thoughts: I don't understand. Because pedestrian fatalities dwarf airplane passenger fatalities, and because is much more risky to cross a road than get on a plane, you support additional powers for the TSA (who, frankly, suck at their useless security theatre job)?"

Oh Jesus. Sorry to have derailed the thread with what I thought was obvious sarcasm. If you'd like my real feelings on the TSA, here are a couple comments (1 2).

posted by gman at 5:48 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


...the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of passengers crashing roughly every month...

I support the no-doubt-imminent announcement of a war on cars.
posted by DU at 5:50 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple things going on with safety and pedestrians, which might not be immediately obvious, particularly regarding Florida.

First there's a large immigrant population, mostly from places like Mexico and Haiti. As pedestrians there's either not a cultural, or ingrained sense of crossing at crosswalks. Where I work (with traffic engineers) and live, there is actually a major problem of people crossing against moving traffic, when a tenth of a mile up the road there is a safe crossing. In other words, they are accustomed to crossing where it's convenient, not where it's safest, and are also used to traffic stopping for them. I imagine quite a lot of the fatalities here are people who unfortunately have been hit crossing where motorists aren't expecting to find a person in the middle of the road. Some mid-block crossings have been set up where there is heavy foot traffic but down here in teabagger land you can rest assured they are called "illegal alien" crossings by the annoyed public. It's sad.

Another thing: Florida has a habit of building big huge multi-lane arterials instead of more routes and alternate transport paths. Florida also has discouraged the use of having bifurcated crossings (where the pedestrian can stop and wait at a median), so if you want to cross one of those big roads you had better be able to do it in one go. In addition to this, FHWA put out a new standard for timing of pedestrian crossings. It used to be four feet per second, and now it's 3.5 feet per second. (This is a nationwide standard - everyone is expected to implement this by 2014 I believe.) On a six lane arterial this can add five or more seconds to the pedestrian signal time. The longer the pedestrian signal runs, the longer the entire traffic signal cycle lasts. This adds up to frustrated drivers who hate to wait, and you get a lot of people nailing pedestrians out of sheer impatience.

In short: not surprised at all.
posted by contessa at 5:50 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


This would be really good data for the reboot of Carmageddon.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:52 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gman Oh Jesus. Sorry to have derailed the thread with what I thought was obvious sarcasm. If you'd like my real feelings on the TSA, here are a couple comments (1 2).

My bad. Should have known you weren't being serious.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:57 PM on June 1, 2011


My community is trying a new pedestrian crossing model, known locally as the Steveston Scramble. Will it work? The locals might be too dumb for an innovative solution. Lord knows four way intersections are beyond our abilities.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2011


Found where my brother was killed.
posted by shothotbot at 6:18 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


about as good an idea as putting spikes on a speculum.

*crosses legs*
posted by emjaybee at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


ocschwar : "The faster people go, the longer they need for following distances. "

in the 15 years i've been driving, i have yet to live in an area where the average motorist had any idea what a safe following distance was.
posted by radiosilents at 6:28 PM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


uh. sorry, emjaybee.

I was trying to think of the Worst Possible Idea and, well.... having just had a few days ago, at 42, my first colonoscopy... yeah.
posted by mephron at 6:48 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Road traffic is the Real Terrorist Threat killing America's citizens. In terms of dead bodies.

Depending upon you sense of perspective.

The big factor is the unreal sense that a driver is in control of his destiny.
posted by ovvl at 6:52 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're relying in your feet and public transportation, you can't be in much of a hurry. You can't time things out like people do with cars, because the bus might come twice an hour if you're lucky, or will pick you up and drop you off 3 or 5 blocks from your points of origin and/or destination. And then the bus will take a weird route to possibly pick up some more people, stopping longer for people with disabilities. A 15 minute car trip is easily 30 minutes by bus, often longer.

If you're relying on public transit, you can be in a hurry, you just need to leave earlier. It's fairly easy to time things out assuming that the bus/metro/tram/subway comes on a schedule, because you know it arrives at 10:32 and the walk is 12 minutes from there, or whatever the number is -- the timing and route are predictable.

Doubling the time in a car to get the time via public transit is probably a safe bet, though.
posted by jeather at 7:01 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Noticed that the top 4 most dangerous areas are in Florida.

I'm reminded of this Kunstler Eyesore of the Month. Can pedestrians even cross there? I imagine it must be a little like Frogger, only with cars as the alligators.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:10 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that the average speed of traffic in LA is 12 mph. Guess how fast I can easily go on my bike?

Traffic deaths are highly preventable, all it takes is a shift in policy and road design. Our default road design in the US explicitly prioritizes cars over lives. And that's not just pedestrians and cyclists dying, by the way. That's other people in cars too. Easily preventable.

The ubiquity of the personal automobile for transportation will eventually be regarded as healthy as the ubiquity of smoking.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:17 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of this Kunstler Eyesore of the Month.

We have one of those in my town. It's called a monotube. It's intersections of that size that I refer to in my comment. They're monstrous.
posted by contessa at 7:23 PM on June 1, 2011


The second link provides a table that lists metropolitan areas with the average number of deaths per 100,000. The top in that criteria is Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, at 3.5 per 100,000. But what is that 100,000 a measure of? Street crossings? Other travel statistics are based on miles traveled.

The 100,000 are people; out of every 100,000 people in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwarter, 3.5 will die as a result of pedestrian fatalities, over a given period of time (usually a year but I think the stats here may be for the period 2000-2009). This is a cause-specific mortality rate, and is a common statistic used in public health to compare mortality from various causes across various groups. See, for instance, Motor Vehicle Death Rate per 100,000 or Colorectal Cancer Death Rate per 100,000.

Usually, though, death rates are expressed per year, not per 10-year period. Which makes it hard to compare the death rate charts I linked with this one, since the mortality is gonna be roughly ten times as high here. That means that pedestrian fatality is actually pretty rare, even in Tampa. Which is not to say that the problem is not serious or not worth working to prevent.
posted by bookish at 7:25 PM on June 1, 2011


Honolulu fudged their data somehow Hawaii leads the nation with a rate of 40.2 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people 65 and older ... that figure is approximately three times higher than the national average. Pedestrian deaths are just accepted as the cost of 'progress' in Hawai'i. Last year Honolulu even went so far as to launch a police-manned anti-pedestrian campaign to ticket and berate pedestrians.

I worked on pedestrian issues in the 80's in Hawai'i. I tried to approach it from a design perspective (and was told 'we follow California models'). The things I said then are still relevant today (and still ignored). I gave up.

Traveling in Europe made me realize that people can live without vehicle-oppression. For instance, almost all cities I visited had pedestrian crossings around 20-30 yards before the intersection. Intersections -- where drivers are concentrating on the movements of other (turning) cars -- are the most dangerous crossing places for pedestrians . And people in Europe WALK (!) Sidewalks are wide and attractive. It is enjoyable to walk there - not to mention all the great public transportation choices.

Little things ... DESIGN changes. This is more than a safety issue and more than accommodation of the elderly and handicapped -- these design choices improve neighborhoods and businesses (more people on the street = more eyes = more 'ownership' of the neighborhood). They improve health in the population and the aesthetics of the city. It is just civilized.

Honolulu is one of the worst places in the nation for pedestrian (human) design. This is especially hard to accept because there was such beauty there to begin with. Catering to cars has been, and IS, essentially a rape of the land. Disgusting.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:17 PM on June 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


Well, with 47,000 casualties a year and no end in sight, it's time to admit we've failed in our attempt at nation building, pull out, and go home.

U.S. OUT OF THE USA!!!
posted by happyroach at 9:36 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Filthy Light Thief: If you're relying in your feet and public transportation, you can't be in much of a hurry. You can't time things out like people do with cars, because the bus might come twice an hour if you're lucky, or will pick you up and drop you off 3 or 5 blocks from your points of origin and/or destination. And then the bus will take a weird route to possibly pick up some more people, stopping longer for people with disabilities. A 15 minute car trip is easily 30 minutes by bus, often longer.

You're a "city planner type" and you've never lived in a city with functional mass transportation or dared to imagine that such a thing might exist? There are income brackets, age brackets and other demographics of people who have no choice or people who actually choose not to drive. All road users deserve consideration in the design of public roads and the most vulnerable especially do. All roads that are not controlled access freeways need to be built to a human-scale for the obvious reason that they're all used by humans. I worked at a school that was built, abandoned and then reclaimed as a much-needed charter school. An industrial neighborhood had sprung up in the meantime (The school was also bordering a protected natural area randomly enough). I cringed every time I watched groups of kids or families run five lanes of traffic. We worked with the city to reroute the public bus to stop on the doorstep instead.

But, even barring that, industrial workers need human-scale access to their workplaces, too. What do you do when your car breaks down? When you can no longer afford payments? Or you have a disability that no longer allows you to drive safely?

I've commuted almost every single working day of my very good career by foot, bus or bicycle and I'm incredibly grateful to the city planners who worked and fought to keep the cities I've lived in livable. I have a lot of trouble imagining what life is like for children who grow up in one of the many so-called cities and towns that are nothing but a network of strung together five-lane arterials with no neighborhoods and no culture and no freedom without four wheels. When you take a step back and look at it from the perspective of other road users, the entitlement of automobile culture is tragic.
posted by Skwirl at 10:12 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, almost every American city with over 10,000 population had amazingly functional mass transportation during the first few decades of the 20th century until the Great American Streetcar conspiracy occurred: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_streetcar_scandal
posted by Skwirl at 10:19 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am disabled and cannot drive. Sarajevo was actually easier for me to get around than any place I have lived in the States because most roads are narrower, traffic moves slower, and even in the no sidewalk or thin slice of sidewalk areas,drivers do watch out for pedestrians. Signage and sidewalks are a huge problem in Yakima. I find it a royal pain to have to deal with walking someplace and simply running out of sidewalk, the idiots who water the street along with their precious lawns, the hostile dogs. It is also a long run to the store here or anyplace to eat out. People who are poor still have schedules. I do often feel impeded by overly short traffic lights and placebo buttons here as well.
Maybe as more people are reduced to walking, biking and busing, this might change.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:44 PM on June 1, 2011


Road traffic is the Real Terrorist Threat killing America's citizens. In terms of dead bodies.

In other terms as well. It is just that we are so used to the terror we don't consider it terror. It is just the way things are.

We spend a not insignificant amount of time teaching children to fear the road and cars for their own safety. Many a sane caring and normal parent will beat this fear into their children using the "I only smack them if they are going to walk out into the road" rule. This isn't unreasonable since we have created death zones where armoured knights patrol on mechanical horses powered by barely controlled explosions. The monsters are not under the bed. They are out on the road. I've lost a cousin, two high school classmates, one college classmate and one grad school classmate to car accidents and I don't even tend keep track of people so it is surely an underestimate. You probably also have a similar tragic list.

In terms of law enforcement and legal responsibility these 'knights' patrolling the death zones are granted special dispensations when they unlawfully kill people which typically include the lowest sentences for the ending of a human life by anyone outside the military or police and a legally limited amount of liability set forth by the Western world's governments at the request of insurance companies. And that is only if they are deemed responsible. Most people who dare to be on a road unarmoured are considered at fault for almost any action they take. Imagine any other place where if you step the wrong way someone gets to punch you. They generally don't exist because that would be clearly and obvious crazy and no way for civilized people to live.

Drivers of cars are terrorists by just about every aspect of the definition and most don't even realize it. Just like they don't realize that they are not caught in traffic but are traffic themselves.

Driving is a fascinating and weird example of human craziness.
posted by srboisvert at 3:58 AM on June 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


the idiots who water the street along with their precious lawns

Killing's too good for these people. My neighborhood is fucking infested with them.
posted by enn at 7:25 AM on June 2, 2011


Surfurrus, I tried biking in Honolulu and it nearly got me killed. People would scream at me from the open windows of their passing cars, and I routinely got told off for not using the pedestrian crosswalks (bike riders aren't freaking pedestrians!). The problem is magnified by the appallingly poor average driving skill level.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:31 AM on June 2, 2011


This is why I laugh at people who suggest I wear a magic-plastic-hat when I bike.

The biggest threat to my life a fucking cager running me off the road, not falling and smacking my head a no more that 12 mph (which is all the magic-plastic-hats are rated for). It's more dangerous to be a pedestrian than ride a bike, but nobody suggests pedestrians wear helmets, much less when behind the driving/riding in a cage.

Cagers: terrorists, and tax-subsidesed sponges to boot.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:47 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who lives in Florida, why were there so many fatalites appearing to be physically located ON I-95? I don't get it. Are those people trying to cross the highway, changing tires, or is this map ALL traffic fatalities?

Also, Americans have always been terrible at designing roads. If it weren't for WWII, and the German designed Autobahn, we'd still be driving into eachother at a combined speed of 150MPH every time the highway curved.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:20 AM on June 2, 2011


Add a bunch of cross-walks, and you've defeated the purpose of the arterial
road.


flt, let me point out that the road pictured is Buford Highway in Atlanta, GA. Most of the intersections you can see in that photo already have 4 crosswalks present. In every single place where there's a sidewalk on both sides of an intersection, Goergia's unmarked crosswalk law applies, and pedestrians have the right to walk out, stopping traffic if necessary.

All that marking and signalizing those crossings will do is make drivers more aware of their existing responsibilities, and relieve them of the nearly impossible task of examining side-street sidewalks at each intersection to determine which pedestrians they have to stop for.
posted by CHoldredge at 8:23 AM on June 2, 2011


I tried biking in Honolulu and it nearly got me killed. - 1adam12

Yes, it is suicidal. There is actually a 'bike lane' near the university that goes *between* one traffic lane and the lane that is the entrance to the freeway!

I told my children that one of the reasons I want to retire in Turkey is that I will be happily riding my bike to the markets until I am 102.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:36 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drivers of cars are terrorists by just about every aspect of the definition and most don't even realize it. Just like they don't realize that they are not caught in traffic but are traffic themselves. - srboisvert

... which is why the Answer to All Problems is ... control 'the other guy'.

One of the tragedies of the American car-addiction is that there is no reasonable alternative for those who want to break the habit. Non-drivers are punished by lack of access and connections; it is just untenable for most who still want to work and live in this car-dominated world.

It may take a complete economic collapse and rebuilding to get back to livable cities that are designed for human interaction, and not for 'moving traffic'. All the pavement and asphalt alone (60% of urban land!) will be a huge problem when it is not needed anymore.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:46 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is suicidal. There is actually a 'bike lane' near the university that goes *between* one traffic lane and the lane that is the entrance to the freeway!

This isn't standard operating procedure? They have these "Funlanes" everywhere in S. Florida!

They even have one special Funlane on an bridge over the interstate, where the bike lane squeezes from a normal ~2 foot width down to about 6-8 inches, and it does this right where the bridge goes over the highway. Directly to your left is traffic, and immediately on your right is a low wall (about waist height while walking) with a 20' drop to the roadway below! FUNLANE!!!!
posted by Debaser626 at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do they actually call bike lanes "Funlanes", perpetuating the idea that by providing them. they're indulging a minority's frivolous pastime at the expense of serious motorists?
posted by acb at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


While in some areas poorly designed roads are a leading factor in pedestrian deaths, in many cases it is simply a matter of drivers being poorly educated or not caring. There also are poorly educated pedestrians that don't do what they are supposed to do. There are livable cities that are pedestrian friendly.

An interesting concept in Europe is this design.
posted by JJ86 at 9:50 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last year.. or the year previous I remember taking a 6 road trip and back, in parts of rural America. Roads are slaughterhouses. 12 total hours (back and forth) 9 deer, 3 dogs, 4 cats, any number of different birds (including at least one owl), 3 car accidents (other people not me), 2 skunks, 1 fox(I think) and various unidentifiable creatures.
posted by edgeways at 10:18 AM on June 2, 2011


JJ86 - that is a very interesting! European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs

European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren

It reminds me of the time there was an island-wide blackout on O'ahu. I was amazed at how polite and careful drivers would be at intersections with no signals!
posted by Surfurrus at 11:10 AM on June 2, 2011


A couple weeks ago, I was riding my motor scooter and had a car swerve at me (passengers going (WOOO!) so close I could have reached out and slapped their faces.

A lot of drivers are fucking malicious towards anyone not in a car.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:13 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


BTW, Keith Talent thank you for the link to the Stevestson Scramble in B.C. -- that is a great design. It is used in Waikiki (very successfully). Hawai'i did decide that killing tourists was a bit much, I guess. They won't install those protections anywhere else on the island even though it serves drivers as much as pedestrians.

Intersections became especially dangerous when the 'right turn on red' was mandated back in the '70s (energy conservation?). Pedestrians now have cars turning in all directions in every lane -- and no driverds are watching for people, only for their goal to make the turn before being cut off.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:37 AM on June 2, 2011


Do they actually call bike lanes "Funlanes", perpetuating the idea that by providing them. they're indulging a minority's frivolous pastime at the expense of serious motorists?

No.. they're just standard "Bike Lanes." I refer to the terror-inducing sections of some very poorly thought out bike lanes as "Funlanes" in the same vein of "findahappyplacefindahappyplacefindahappyplace"
Though don't let the FDOT get a hold of that idea, they'd probably run with it.

Bikes down here are about the only other viable alternative to car that I would and have gone with. The bus system is.... lacking. Still, with the exception of getting used to the fact that cars (and I was totally guilty of this too, before biking) don't stop before the street, but will merely roll through sidewalk and bike lane directly to a merging position, it hasn't been too bad.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:03 PM on June 2, 2011


Housing developments shouldn't be located right along arterial roads, at least without some buffer. Add a bunch of cross-walks, and you've defeated the purpose of the arterial road.

The thing here, though, is that high-density housing developments are located on arterial roads, because often those roads are zoned to allow large apartment buildings, and because NIMBYism keeps those high-density housing developments out of more residential areas. Further, housing for elderly, disabled, and low-income folks generally should be located near transit routes, and elderly/disabled housing needs to have good access for emergency services (ambulances, fire trucks, etc)-- and that often means close to major roads.

Additionally, transit lines run on arterial roads, and people getting to & from bus and rail stops are walking to get there. There are many major roads in my county that have bus lines... and huge blocks with inconsistent sidewalks, and midblock bus stops with no crosswalk connections across 5 traffic lanes. Even if the folks who use those buses don't live right on the major road, they'll have to cross the street for at least one leg of their trip. Inconveniencing the cars on the arterial by making them stop for a pedestrian crossing isn't inherently more unfair than making that poor single mother who just got off the bus go 20 minutes out of her way to walk to the nearest signaled intersection and use the crosswalk-- but we're all so used to privileging auto traffic over people and other modes that most drivers think so. And IMO, that's the problem. We privilege auto traffic and cars over people, and that's unacceptable.
posted by Kpele at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is why I laugh at people who suggest I wear a magic-plastic-hat when I bike.

Aahahahahahaha: only 83-91% of US total bicycle fatalities occurred to the helmetless. The reason you laugh at people who suggest you wear a helmet is that some other people have convinced you its uncool. If you're a no-seatbelt, unprotected sex, smoke-em-if-you-got-em, I'm-not-drunk-just-buzzed living on the edge kind of person, go for it, but remember survival is for the cautious, otherwise realize the imbalance in your sense of self-preservation. Or, what edbles said.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:38 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


In before pointless derail on bike helm...aw, shit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2011


My neighborhood has a 40 MPH suburb-style highway with big-box stores on both sides, and a parallel city street one block down that carries pedestrians, buses, bikes, and low-speed traffic with both sides full of homes and small neighborhood businesses. I think this a pretty good design, as it's a pretty walkable neighborhood that still lets drivers get to their destinations quickly.

Adding pedestrian facilities to existing highways usually results in really horrible usability*, and in any case highways don't have the kinds of destinations that people would like to walk to. I think in many cases it would be better to convert a nearby residential street to be a pedestrian-friendly avenue, and leave the big highways alone. I hope any national complete streets legislation takes this alternative into account.

* Have you ever actually seen anyone use those pedestrian bridges that cross most highways in the US? They seem to be placed in random locations by highway engineers who think people will really like to take a pleasant afternoon stroll up a concrete staircase and over twelve lanes of traffic under an awning of chain-link fence.
posted by miyabo at 2:09 PM on June 2, 2011


I hate American new developments. They usually have arterials and other roads designed for the maximum convenience of drivers, i.e., wide, with wide-angle turns, entrances, and exits. They take longer for a pedestrian to cross, and, where there are crosswalks, the people who set them up don't seem to have taken into account how long it actually takes to walk across them. I am fit and walk quickly, and I can't get across many of these wide roads before the WALK sign flashes off. I am not surprised that many pedestrians ignore the crosswalks. They are responding to frustration; you don't need to adduce some "cultural" reason for low-income people of color crossing in the middle of the street, however suicidal it looks.

OTOH I got back recently from a week's trip to Rome and I prefer American drivers. I would be amused to see international statistics on traffic fatalities.
posted by bad grammar at 2:39 PM on June 2, 2011


Here are a few frequently used pedestrian bridges in Milwaukee - Brady Street, Bradford Beach, and my favorite one.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2011


The reason you laugh at people who suggest you wear a helmet is that some other people have convinced you its uncool.

No, rather that the overall research on the effectiveness of bike helmets is inconclusive at best. There is also the fact that they may increase the risk of certain types of rotational head injuries. Walking down the street is, as the FPP points out, dangerous to deadly sometimes. But ones makes risks assessments about life daily.

Not meant as a derail, more a comment on the overall unsafeness of American roads. Anyone not an automobile is unwelcome and borderline trespassing. And that's by design. We as a culture love our cars and going fast and the perceived freedom they bring, the blood on the roads is the price we're collectively willing to pay.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2011


CRAP! inconclusive
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:39 AM on June 3, 2011


Oh, and I'm 100% in favor of bike-and-foot traffic, but goddamn some pedestrians and cyclists are bordering on suicidal. My route to work has a bike path and even if it didn't I'd be content to let them have the lane, because they are traffic too, but every single day I'm cut off by a bike. What can we do when there's a big wide bike lane and plentiful crosswalks and people still don't know how to ride/walk?
posted by desjardins at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2011


Drivers who complain about bikes and pedestrians get no sympathy from me. You are driving a vehicle that is at least 300X heavier and will get to your destination in a far speedier time than any of those 'suicidal' obstructions.

Pesky people in your way? That is the price you pay for your luxury. Yes, it is time to see driving vehicles as luxury, a privilege - not a right. Also, keep in mind, "I may be walking slowly (or on a bike), but just remember -- I am is one less car in front of you."

BTW, I assume 'suicidal' could be applied to dogs, cats, wild animals, confused elderly, mentally incompetent, distracted children ...? Perhaps, but there really is no way to distinguish motives from behind the wheel. The onus of the safety of those "others" must be on the driver AT ALL TIMES - whether you judge them or not. That is also the price you pay.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:40 PM on June 3, 2011


What if I'm a pedestrian and complain about bikes that have no courtesy and try to run me over constantly when I have the legal right of way? The number of times a bike has blown through a stop sign or red light and nearly hit me outnumber the number of times a car has nearly hit me.
posted by JJ86 at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


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